We went to town today and picked up a paper. On the front page was this guy who looked like he stepped out of a "slasher" movie. Turned out there was a reason for that. He cut somebody up, then vanished. Our Sheriff thinks this unsavory character is still in the county somewhere. It's a big county, lots of places to hide.
|You never know when it will come in handy.|
I know several people are about to move from cities to the country, so I thought I would list some books that are useful in this endeavor. Those by Ragnar Benson, in my opinion, are the best. I decided not to post a couple of titles on the subject, because I haven't read them. If anyone knows of other books that would be useful, let me know and I'll include them, with your thoughts.
Haven't read this one, but I was told by someone who had that it was useful. He knows his stuff, so I'm listing it , unlike two other books I haven't read.
I have read virtually all of Ragnar Benson's books, and this one was useful to me in improving my own situation up here. You can hardly go wrong with this guy. I know Ragnar Benson was his nom de plume, and I know he's dead, but it's still as viable as it was the day he published it.
This one would have saved me some time and money had I read it before moving to the property I bought. It's the best of the books I know of in terms of dealing with the nitty gritty of actually finding and buying a specific property for your retreat.
If I were doing this all over again, what would I do differently.
I wouldn't build a multi-level house. My land is really steep, and building what amounted to a three story house back into the mountainside was the cheapest, most practical way to do it. But now, I'd stay with a single story home, even if I had to pay more to have more building sites carved out of the mountain.
I would not have blown off a small fortune on installing a complete solar power/generator system up here for Y2K. Not enough sun here , especially in winter, but the guys from Spartanburg, South Carolina who sold me the system and installed it did not mention the fact. I could have, and should have, done my own homework, and not relied on "duty experts" who had a vested interest in selling me something.
I would have spent the money to put in actual buildings to park in, instead of concrete parking pads. Starting a vehicle here when it's been sitting outside in sub zero weather a few days is more of a challenge than I need.
I should have had them bulldoze out a meadow all the way around the house. Instead, to save money, I just had 180 degrees cleared around the buildings. That means the forest comes right up to the house on the other 180 degrees. Not good for security, and damnably dangerous in terms of forest fires.
I should not have put a shake roof on my buildings. Looks nice, and metal wasn't really an option back then unless you wanted a "tin" roof that was aluminum colored. But shakes have cost me a fortune in increased insurance premiums, and in repairs.
I should have put a lot fewer windows in the main house. Yes, the view is nice. But from the standpoint of security they are a bad idea, and keeping the house cool or warm is harder because of the windows, even if they are double paned.
I should have taken the wrap around porch all the way around the house. Instead, I built a front porch, and back porch, and connected them on one side with a walk way. That means the side of the house with no walk way is not accessible to me at night unless I go along at ground level in the woods.
One of my biggest mistakes was to use railroad ties in retaining walls. Railroad ties were the be all and the end all in 1986, and they did look good. Unfortunately, 31 years later they have largely rotted out and I am having to replace them with other materials, slowly and painfully.
Here are some things I did right.
All of my buildings are cedar log, on a heavy field stone foundation. You couldn't do it today, the ocst of cedar wood is beyond belief. But in 1986 we could still get Canadian cedar. Cedar log will last forever. You just have to spray the outside every few years to keep the wood in shape, and to keep bugs out of the wood. Oak is good too, there is a cabin in my part of the county that was built in 1847, and it's in good shape. But I went with cedar and have no regrets about that.
I chose property that was difficult to access. When I then built a way up to the building site, I put a gate up that couldn't be bypassed. Big ravine with a creek in it on one side, steep cliff face on the other. Since I had national forest behind me, I didn't have to worry about easements. NEVER buy a property with easements, and never give anyone an easement through your property.
I built special purpose buildings. I have storage rooms in the main building, big ones.
I have a shop , and a barn.
I also built an apartment over the shop, fully equipped with kitchen, bath, etc. It's proven handy when something failed in the main house, and we used the apartment as a back up til I could effect repairs.
I chose land with National Forest on three sides, and I bought the land down slope. Nobody can encroach on me.
I have been careful over the years to try to maintain operational security in terms of my location. I have not always been successful, but I have to the extent that in 31 years I've only had a handful of problems related to that issue. It's my opinion that it's very unwise to broadcast your location to all and sundry. Not everybody on the internet is sane and not everyone is pleasant.
I have three water sources here, two of which are natural.
I did have a good sized meadow bulldozed out of the forest. I've used it for animals, for gardening, and just because I like to see something besides trees all the time.
I did have concrete parking pads poured for three vehicles. Parking on red Georgia clay, on a steep hillside, in winter or during summer rains, is unwise.
I did have a big Tennessee field stone fireplace built, and I put a fully functional Victorian era wood burning kitchen stove in our kitchen. I also have a wood burning stove in the lowest level of the house.
I set the buildings up for propane heat. None of the controls are electric. If the power goes out, and the generator fails, I can still heat the house. Our kitchen stove is a Kenmore propane model, and has worked flawlessly all these years. We can cook while we have propane.
My propane tanks and diesel tanks are adequate to keep me in propane and diesel for a long time in the event of a disruption.
So, I've done some things right, and some things I could have done much better. Hind sight, as they say, is always 100%. Overall, I'm satisfied with the place and how it's worked out.
Thought for the Day.
They're out there.